Will Trevor Story’s splits from Coors Field hurt Red Sox production?


Red Sox

Trevor Story hasn’t played far from Coors Field in Colorado in the past. Could he still thrive at batter-friendly Fenway Park?

New Red Sox shortstop Trevor Story has struggled to get away from Coors Fields during his career. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

  • 4 things to know about new Red Sox star Trevor Story

Even with the excitement surrounding the Red Sox’s signing of former Colorado Rockies star shortstop Trevor Story, questions remain unavoidable.

Should the Red Sox pay over $140 million over six years to a guy who apparently can’t hit as well outside of Coors Field?

If he’s struggling this season, should Boston reevaluate if Story really is the long-term(-ish) answer in case the team can’t retain Xander Bogaerts at the end of this season?

Admittedly, the home numbers outside of Story’s time in Colorado are hard to ignore.

Story has been excellent at Coors Field over his six-year career, slashing .303/.369/.972 with 95 homers, 279 RBIs and a .354 average on balls in play in 1,592 plate appearances at his old park in residence. But he was an utterly ordinary player on the road, with numbers dropping to .241/.310/.752, 63 homers, 171 RBIs and a .317 average on balls in play in 1,544 plate appearances. He also hit 81 other times on the road.

So one can understand the concern about how the shortstop will fare in another full-time ballpark without the thin “Mile High” look to extract his numbers, as critics would say.

Still, there are a few big reasons the signing could work very well for the Red Sox and Story going forward.

On the one hand, Story is simply a good player who hits the ball hard consistently.

Despite the huge disparity in their home divisions last season, for example, they still ranked above average in stats such as average speed out, percentage of hard-hit balls, percentage of expected slugging and “barrel” percentage, according to Baseball Savant. This suggests that he places the ball well no matter where he plays. After that, the results are what they are.

Another important note: Fenway Park, like Coors Field, is one of baseball’s most batter-friendly parks.

Via Baseball Savant, Fenway had the second highest “park factor” in the league, recording the second highest percentage increase in runs scored for players who played there compared to other baseball fields. Notably, although home runs tend to be down at Fenway due to the green monster in left field and odd dimensions in other parts of the park, hitters are racking up doubles at Fenway at a much higher rate than in any other park.

If that wasn’t enough, Baseball Savant also predicts that Story would have hit even more home runs at Fenway Park in 2019 (42 home runs expected at Fenway vs. 35 at Coors) and 2021 (38 home runs expected at Fenway vs. 24 at Coors) based on the batted balls he hit during those seasons. Interestingly, those home run totals could have been even greater at other stadiums due to Fenway’s aforementioned home run barriers.

The bottom line: There’s no reason Story can’t do very well at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform assuming he keeps hitting the ball hard. Even though the homerun numbers are dropping, the slugging numbers should stay up there as he spices up the monster for doubles.

Plus, he’ll be in a lineup surrounded by hitters like Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts for this season at least, which could mean he’ll have a lot of pitches to make assuming he’s a top-of- the- order striker.

Fenway Park may not be Coors Field in terms of batting friendliness, but it’s the next best thing. This bodes well for Story and the Red Sox.

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